PM Trudeau takes the stage at question period to showcase his idea for reform

PM answers all questions in House of Commons

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to his feet Wednesday to answer questions on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the bombing mission in Iraq, executive compensation at Bombardier and money to help support families with autism.

Then he kept going.

Trudeau rose every time someone in the opposition benches posed a query during the daily question period, clearly catching his rivals off-guard, whose carefully crafted missives were clearly intended for Liberal cabinet ministers.

The Liberal government is trying to convince the opposition of the merits of its proposed changes to parliamentary procedure, which include devoting one question period a week to grilling only the prime minister, such as is done in Britain.

It was one of the promises in the Liberal campaign platform, and Trudeau appeared to enjoy his surprise stunt to show off how it would work.

“I am pleased to be able to personally answer this question,” he said at one point.

The spectacle prompted some snark, particularly from Conservative MP Tony Clement, who wondered aloud whether one could change the rules to also guarantee a corresponding increase in the quality of Trudeau’s answers.

In a way, however, it backfired: both Conservative MP Mark Strahl and NDP counterpart David Christopherson noted the stunt proved there is no need to change the rules without a broader Commons consensus.

 That goes right to the heart of the ongoing showdown between the Liberals and the opposition parties.

“No need to unilaterally use the power to ram through the changes,” Christopherson said.

Conservative and New Democrats began a filibuster at the procedures committee last month, speaking for hours over the course of four days in hopes of thwarting Liberal efforts to expedite a review of the changes.

That filibuster resumed again Wednesday and, with the chair promising food would be provided, was expected to continue late into the night.

The proposals also include letting MPs vote electronically, doing away with sparsely attended Friday sittings and scheduling a set amount of time to move government bills through the legislative process.

The Conservatives and New Democrats have joined forces to demand the Liberals guarantee they won’t force the changes through without all-party consensus, which is usually how such changes have been made in the past.

On Wednesday, opposition House leader Candice Bergen and NDP House leader Murray Rankin wrote a letter to government House leader Bardish Chagger proposing a compromise: a special committee to study the issue.

“We believe that a consensus-based approach to modernizing the House of Commons … would respect the time honoured tradition of this Parliament, and be more fruitful and productive,” said the letter.

The Liberals are prepared to stand their ground on the parts of the discussion paper that stem from their campaign promises. That includes the weekly Trudeau-only question period, forcing governments to justify why they are proroguing Parliament and giving the Speaker the authority to divide omnibus bills.

“I will not give the Conservatives a veto over our campaign commitments,” Chagger said Wednesday.

Still, when pressed on whether there might be some room to consider changing the way they are going about things now, Chagger said she would continue reaching out to Bergen and Rankin.

“I am open to all ideas.”

— Follow @smithjoanna on Twitter

Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Hwy. 97 reopened after Trout Creek collision

No details on injuries or cause yet

Souper Sunday raises Soupateria profile

The competition pits local chefs against each other to make soup for the those in need.

Supporting survivors of breast cancer

Survivorship shows there is life beyond cancer

Foreigner feeling like the first time after 40

Foreigner doesn’t miss a beat after 40 years

Octoberfest is the toast of the town

Eighth annual night of fun, music and brews

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

WATCH: 10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

A golden opportunity

Orthodontist offers sweet deal for the pocketbook

Who is Curtis Sagmoen?

The Observer reveals what we know about the man attached to the Silver Creek property where human remains were found

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

Reel Reviews: Nothing left to lose

We say, “Grieving Quan kicks butt”

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

Most Read